PatientsLikeMe

“It just makes sense to give back”: How PatientsLikeMe employees volunteered their time this year

Volunteering is a big part of the culture at PatientsLikeMe. Inspired by PatientsLikeMe members, who have made our online community a place to find support and answers about health, we do our best to give something back to our local community, too. This year, many of our staff members pitched in and gave their time to organizations all over the greater Boston area. Here’s what we’ve been up to this year… 50 PLMers (that’s what we like to call ourselves) volunteered during PatientsLikeMe’s service month in November Those individuals volunteered a total of 260 hours …and supported 18 different organizations in the greater Boston area Check out some of the places we volunteered our time this year, and see these PLMers in action… PatientsLikeMe staff members volunteer at Rosie’s Rosie’s Place Rosie’s Place is a women’s shelter in Boston that was created to service poor and homeless women. They not only provide shelter, but also support 12,000 women a year with a wide range of services including housing and education. Tori, Katie, Kim and Rebecca volunteer at Community Servings Community Servings is a not-for-profit food and nutrition program whose mission is to provide services throughout Massachusetts to individuals and families living with critical and chronic illnesses. …

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“Everyone needs a “Me too!” moment” – Member Shannon on exposing her truth

“With every part of me that becomes less than what it used to be, a different part of me usually becomes more than what it used to be. In fact, maybe that’s the point, but it doesn’t make it any less difficult.” Shannon (Sna2164) is a wife, mother, animal lover and writer, living in southern California. She was officially diagnosed with multiple sclerosis at 27 years old, with three children under the age of four. In a recent interview, Shannon told us about her diagnosis, starting a blog and her journey to peace and contentment with MS. Check out her story about exposing her truth and helping others who feel misunderstood. Searching for answers While others can go through years of suffering while waiting for a diagnosis, Shannon’s experience was comparatively quick. It started six months after her youngest daughter was born. She began having terrible pain in her right eye, combined with temporary loss of vision in that same eye anytime she went from darkness to light or vice versa. In her quest for an explanation and solution, she used eye glasses she didn’t need and took antibiotics for sinus infections she didn’t have. A few months into trying to solve the mystery …

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We the Patients: New PatientsLikeMe poll finds a unified voice on a U.S. health care plan

Repeal? Replace? Revise? While politicians have spent months debating the details of a U.S. health care plan, a recent poll of 2,755 PatientsLikeMe members has found that patients are largely aligned about components of a strong plan for the country.   “Despite the partisan divide in Congress about what should be included in a health care plan there is a singular voice in patients, who are agreed across party lines on the essential foundation for any plan.” — Sally Okun, PatientsLikeMe’s vice president of Advocacy, Policy and Patient Safety   Patients with a variety of conditions and from all 50 states (plus the District of Columbia) participated in the poll May 4-9. The poll launched on the same day that the U.S. House of Representatives voted (217 to 213) to narrowly pass the American Health Care Act (AHCA, sometimes nicknamed “Trumpcare” or “Ryancare”), which would repeal much of the Affordable Care Act (ACA, or “Obamacare”). The AHCA bill is now with the Senate for deliberation, revisions and possibly a vote in the coming days. Here are some highlights from the poll’s findings and the latest trends in patients’ opinions. The new (May) poll was a follow-up to a January 2017 …

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Going global for World MS Day

It’s World MS Day and this year we checked in with the global MS community to see how members around the world are living with MS. Here’s what they had to say:     “MS is very rare in India. I’m from North India, known as Kashmir, a very beautiful place and it’s rightly known as paradise on earth. For me living with MS is like dying every second in my crippled life. Imbalanced walk in MS really sucks. Shaking of arms or very poor pen grip in my hands makes me feel pity on myself. I don’t think that staying positive works. I had to leave my engineering studies and a government job because of it. Unfortunately, I can’t let others feel what I or my body feels for myself. I can’t afford the life-long treatment for an incurable disease like MS as I’m an idle cripple.”   “I am 50 years old and live alone with severely advanced SPMS. While my MS has progressed very quickly, since I have accepted I need care 22 months ago, the government has been EXTREMELY slow to catch on how desperately in need of care I am. I have [had] to fund most …

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“Our countries have come together, but our people have not”: PatientsLikeMe’s Margot shares her story

Margot Carlson Delogne is the Vice President of Communications at PatientsLikeMe. She is also the child of an American soldier lost at war. This Memorial Day we wanted to show how she’s working on her own healing process, but also repairing some of the divide left in the aftermath of the Vietnam War. In December 2015, Margot, along with five other grown sons and daughters of American fathers who were lost in the war, travelled to Vietnam to confront the painful history of the parents they’d lost and to meet face-to-face with grown Vietnamese children who had also lost parents in the same war, but on the opposite side. The journey, named The 2 Sides Project, also allowed the group to visit the locations where each their fathers had fought and died, an experience that left Margot “changed forever.” “My father’s plane went down 200-300 meters from a bunker that had been his target,” Margot says of her father, Air Force Captain John W. Carlson, who was shot down in December 1966. “We looked at online maps before we went and they showed an odd line of trees along the edge of a road, and exactly 200 meters from that, …

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It’s Clinical Trials Day, and patients are driving change

Today is Clinical Trials Day – celebrated to bring more attention to public health and also to recognize the contribution of the patients and healthcare professionals who make clinical research possible. At PatientsLikeMe, it’s members who are changing the way clinical trials are designed. Bringing the patient voice to clinical trials has long been part of the PatientsLikeMe mission. Jeremy Gilbert, Vice President, PLM Health and Paul Wicks, Ph.D., Vice President, Innovation, sat down with us last year to talk about the importance of putting patients at the center of drug discovery and development. Check out their Q&A here. Recently, Paul Wicks touched on the purpose behind the latest PatientsLikeMe study on clinical trial design involving the patient perspective, and why organizations need to work on improving their trial process: “As researchers we know that clinical trials are the best tool we have for identifying new, safe, effective treatments. Patients know this, too, and they’re motivated to take part. But what this research tells us is that actually participating in a trial is not a fun experience; about as much fun as dealing with the worst airlines, banks, or utility companies, and we all know how that can be. This …

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“There were so many people asking the things that I was too afraid to ask”

It’s the 10-year anniversary of the MS community, and we’re sharing a story from one of our members, Jackie (OldSalt). Jackie was diagnosed with relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis (RRMS) in 2007 and more recently, her condition transitioned to secondary progressive MS (SPMS). She found PatientsLikeMe in 2008 and believes that being part of the site over the last nine years has made a difference in her life, and the course of her illness. A jarring diagnosis “Some may say I was “lucky” that I had little trouble being diagnosed compared to many who spend years chasing answers to understand why they are feeling as they do. It can be frustrating wondering what’s happening to your body.” The summer before her diagnosis, Jackie found herself suddenly unable to walk or move her limbs for nearly two full weeks. After diagnosing her with an unspecified virus, her physician prescribed an antibiotic over the phone. The antibiotic didn’t help. A month later, after experiencing terrible pain in her left eye, Jackie went to an ophthalmologist. He believed she had MS and contacted her physician to request an immediate consult with a Neurologist for a Lumbar Puncture and an MRI. “This all took place within a …

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World Parkinson’s Day: Meet Eileen, a PatientsLikeMe researcher with a passion for PD

Today is World Parkinson’s Day, and 2017 marks the 200th anniversary of the identification of Parkinson’s Disease (PD). Meet Eileen Mack Thorley, a research scientist with a passion for PD research. By day, she works on a variety of research projects at PatientsLikeMe. On her own time, you might find her doing FaceTime with her dad to help him practice his physical therapy exercises for living with Parkinson’s. He was diagnosed with PD more than 10 years ago. Eileen said her father’s PD diagnosis inspired her to get involved with the Team Fox Foundation Young Professionals of Boston (part of the Michael J. Fox Foundation), and ultimately led her to venture into PD research as part of her day job. Eileen has a master’s degree in public health and specializes in epidemiology, data analysis and public health research. She has been working in the field for 8 years, previously focusing on the areas of substance abuse and maternal and child health. “Where I want to be now is focusing on Parkinson’s research and community health – living with the disease and bringing the patient experience into research,” Eileen said. In addition to a focus on traditional medical breakthroughs in Parkinson’s …

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Largest Patient Poll on ACA Shows Patients Value Health Care Law More Than the General Population, Are Less Inclined to Want a Repeal

Lowering Costs, Coverage for Pre-existing Conditions Remain Top Priorities; If Changes Are Required, Individual Mandate Should Go   CAMBRIDGE, Mass., February 7, 2017—As Congress and the White House continue to discuss potential changes to the Affordable Care Act (ACA), PatientsLikeMe revealed results from the first large-scale poll to assess patient priorities for the health care law. The poll’s 2,197 respondents are among the estimated 133 million Americans living with chronic conditions. Sally Okun, PatientsLikeMe’s Vice President of Advocacy, Policy and Patient Safety, said the poll gives voice to those who may be most heavily impacted by changes to the law. “Regardless of your political leaning, the great equalizer is that we’ll all become sick one day. At this time of uncertainty about the future of health care, listening to the voice of patients today will illuminate the path forward for all of us.” Key findings from the poll show that overall, patients have the same concerns as the general population about health care costs, but see benefits in the law that the healthy may have overlooked: More than half (57%) believe the ACA has been helpful to people living with chronic conditions. Nearly half (46%) feel the ACA needs only …

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Top Rheumatoid Blogs of 2016

Today is Rheumatoid Awareness Day and this year we wanted to share some of the top rheumatoid arthritis blogs that were included in Healthline’s 16 Best Rheumatoid Arthritis Blogs of 2016 list: Itis Stay up-to-date to learn about RA’s long-term effects and practical tips for living with RA. This blogger’s socks help treat the pain of RA and of Raynaud’s, (an autoimmune blood vessel dysfunction that sometimes co-occurs with RA). 2. All Flared Up This blog is about “living rather than wallowing” with RA. Check in to see how blogger Amanda is learning to understand her body and how it works with RA. 3. Arthritic Chick Before Arthritic Chick was finally diagnosed with RA, she suffered with pain in her hands, feet and ribs for years. On her blog, she shares the good days, and her bad days with openness, honesty and strength. 4. An Attitude of Gratitude Julie Faulds’ easygoing blog gives us a peek into her life with her family, thunder-phobic dog — and, her RA and fibromyalgia. Julie chooses an “attitude of gratitude” and her bad days make her good days better and brighter. Always an advocate of finding the positive, she suggests thinking of your RA downtime as a …

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